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I was intimidated at work-how do I work with this person


I recently had a small kind of altercation with another nurse I work with. She's more of a pet iem worker than a regular but I see her pretty often. We had worked together a few months and things seemed fine, but apparently they weren't. Sometimes she's worked my shift but usually I report off to her for the next shift. One night I handed her some forms for a patient and jokingly asked if she knew what to do with them (because I had never seen them before, I had already talked to coworkers about them but didn't get a great explanation so I would've taken any advice on how to document/fill them out). She didn't take it jokingly and thought I was insulting her intelligence by asking her. She started asking how long I'd been a nurse and said she's been a nurse for so long, etc, getting louder and louder. I apologized and said that I was sorry if it came across that way, but that's not how I meant it. She then yelled some more and said I've made her mad in the past and I better watch what I say to her because this is the last straw. So I left at that point it came across really aggressive and threatening and I talked to my administrator and said that I thought if she was spoken to it would just make her angrier, but asked if it was possible to not schedule me around her because I was uncomfortable working with her. I also don't know what I've done in the past to make her mad, because things were seemingly fine and I was scared anything I say would set her off again. He said they'd try not to schedule us together but then basically it couldn't happen that way because she works my unit most frequently.

The next day I saw her at the time clock first and thought maybe things had cooled down so I smiled and said hello like usual. She glared, rolled her eyes, and walked away. I figured okay, so we're just not going to do the pleasantries thing...that's fine. I can deal with that as long as she's not as hostile as the other night. But then I had to count off with her later that night and things got rough again. I had gotten really busy and sent a resident to the hospital at 9:30pm. I basically just finished the paperwork at 10:45 and my shift was over at 11 so I didn't even have time for a dinner break. My coworker knew of the altercation from before so she let me give report first but said to have everything ready so I could go right away and wouldn't be alone with this other nurse. So at 10:45 I was pulling out the next shift report paper and still trying to make sure I didn't miss any paperwork for the hospital and checking that my faxes went through. I knew I was forgetting something, but I was so worried about how I would word everything in report so it wouldn't come across wrong and cause an argument so I just went through the assignment list and practiced it in my head. What I forgot was to take the med cart trash out (a second time actually, because I had taken it out but it got full again during the hospital transfer) and wipe down the cart-normally something I do every night and when it starts getting late my coworker and I usually help each other out with that so it almost always gets done but it didn't tonight (this happens to me frequently from the previous shift and I don't flip a lid about it, because I know that it can get busy). So I gave a very brief report, basically saying everyone was "fine" and only mentioned fingersticks, PRN's, and the hospitalized resident. We counted off and she immediately saw the trash and went off on me. She pulled it out and threw the bag on the floor saying that I always leave a mess for her and she has to deal with my trash every night-which is completely untrue so I said I'd take care of it before I leave but that I rarely ever leave my cart a mess. She kept going and getting louder like she does and sp I responded again saying "I almost never leave my trash for you, and I already emptied it tonight but it got full again I'M SO FREAKING SORRY!" I'm not proud of raising my voice back but I've had it. While I was still there she started telling the other nurse and CNA's the same thing (I never take out my trash, I always leave a mess for her, etc) and she didn't sign the narc book before I left either. I'm worried that if she'll lie about that she'd lie about serious/important things. I know this is just a stupid argument but after the first night I'm already uncomfortable even seeing her in the parking lot, much less working with her or handling narcs with her. She's scrutinizing everything now and after telling me I've made her mad before I wonder if she always has.

I don't know how to work with her and I feel threatened by her. I think she has anger problems and I don't know the extent of them but I don't know what she meant when she said I better watch what I say to her and it's the last straw. Now that I raised my voice back I especially am concerned.

Tell your admin that you are concerned and are not having any success with this issue and that you would like a proctored meeting with the other nurse.

Personally, I recommend de-focusing on this "intimidation" issue. Adults should be able to handle (or at least emotionally survive) a situation where another adult has a bad attitude.

Professionalism and taking excellent care of residents are the issues at hand. Asking for a meeting with her shows that you are 1) willing to do more than complain 2) willing to not be "intimidated" and let it affect your work 3) looking for a solution

Ordinarily I would recommend just having a private moment where you say to the other nurse, "Our recent conversations have made me aware that we're not on good terms and I'd like it if we could be. Have I done something to _______ (offend, hurt, anger, be unfair) you? If so, it was not intentional..."

Really it's up to you to decide whether the situation merits a witness or not - - sometimes these people just crumble/backtrack/straighten up when confronted kindly and professionally, so a witness may not be necessary. And some people would simply smile during a meeting and then react with a vengeance. She sounds somewhat irrational so who knows what she will do. But one way or another she is ramping things up and it must be discussed. Professionally. None of this "intimidation" malarkey. In fact, telling this person that she is intimidating me is possibly the absolute LAST thing I would ever do. For goodness' sake, she yelled about some papers and then she yelled about the trash...

Good luck.

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

Wow. Yeah. Really, LeahSunshine. It's a real bummer you have to deal with a personality such as you described.

I second JKL33's advice. I once worked with a volatile personality such as the one you described, had a little altercation with her, and ended up getting terminated over it.

An adjudicator for unemployment benefits found the termination unnecessary, because I had not behaved in any inappropriate manner and awarded me benefits. I didn't really care at that point because I had found a better position with a higher status and pay at a home health care agency.

I hope things work out positively for you, too, LeahSunshine!


Specializes in Medical-Surgical/Float Pool/Stepdown.

Sometimes people that act this way will only continue until you stand up to them. I second that you should have a sit down meeting with management and this peer to air the dirty laundry. Regardless of what this peer feels you may have or may have not done to her in the past, her behavior is not acceptable and is taking up way too much space in your mind. Good luck to you!

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

The trash? Seriously.

I wouldn't even bring up a full trash unless it was over and over, and even then I'd ask as nonthreateningly as possible if they could keep it in mind. Then I'd shut up. Everyone has good points and bad, and if your was never, ever doing trash, but the patients get taken care of, you'd be one of my favorite nurses.

She's acting like a toddler. I suggest you treat her like one. Tell her to lower her voice, then walk away when she has her tantrums, go back when she stops yelling and continue the task you need to do. It's very unbecoming to everyone to have a shouting match in the hallway. I imagine she has done this before, and everyone knows that's how she rolls. You've apologized twice, I would not do that again. Explain you needed a question answered, or "I'll take care of that in a moment" and move on. Let her rant if she has to, then "let's continue," and move on.

3ringnursing, BSN

Specializes in ICU; Telephone Triage Nurse.

I'm so sorry. This happens sometimes randomly in schools, and places of employment - not just nursing unfortunately. It seems some people have multiple personalities, and suddenly all twelve of them decide you are the enemy with little to no provocation on your part. It's like arguing with a hydra.

I've been the recipient of unwelcome turmoil myself in the past and it's no fun. You may never discover the real reason that set her off, but this is really about her - not you at all.

So, what to do?

You've already spoken to your supervisor and got a wishy-washy noncommittal type response in return. Obviously he doesn't want to get involved in the middle of what he may view as a chick fight, and is not comprehending what is going on for what it really is. You seem frightened and intimidated by this person, and that's just not something a manager should blow off.

There is always HR. But before you go that route it may behoove you to start a diary of verbal altercations and incidents between you two. Who said what, the date, time, any witnesses, et al. That way in the event something large occurs then you have some sort of paper trail.

Protect yourself - try not to count narcotics with her. This seems like an obvious place she may attempt to defame you.

One thing is certain - it's not going to suddenly get better, or resolve. This person seems deranged, and when someone like that gets it in their head that YOU wronged THEM they will hang on to it with their teeth and shake it for all it's worth just like a dog with a rat. It sounds to me like she has made you out to be the one whom is instigating this situation - and you just can't convince a fanatic they are wrong.

I'm so sorry to say that the only peace you may eventually have from her is leaving to work elsewhere, depending on how the situation progresses from here.

I had a housekeeper where I worked in a small ICU suddenly decide she despised me (I'm not going to say it was for no reason - I just never was able to discover what that reason was). She also clearly had a mild to moderate developmental disability, as she would walk up to me during codes and start a pleasent conversation - and once she even tried to show me her shopping triumph purchase of a doll she had bought herself from the gift shop. If I wasn't otherwise engaged I would have had no problem with these scenarios, but not when patients are circling the drain. And definitely not while I am busy running in 10 different directions, or dashing past with the crash cart.

Anyway, she went from very friendly and chit-chatty to full on hateful in 1 day. She became real volatile and started slamming things while cleaning, at times with such violence that one day she broke a TV that was suspended on the wall - it actually made a loud "pop" and black smoke poured out of it. Can you imagine being the charge nurse and trying to tolerate that?

The hateful looks she threw my way actually gave me the willies. Eventually after a couple of months of this I brought it to HR's attention with a few other nurses. This person was moved out of the ICU, but I still ran into her all over the hospital.

So basically I won the battle, but lost the war.

It wasn't long after that (and with a heavy heart) I started job hunting again for another job at a totally separate facility. I couldn't stand the abuse even one more nano second.

Again, I feel so badly for the situation you now find yourself in. This may not be the first time she has singled out one person for the honor before, but that sure doesn't make a person in your situation feel any better. It may be best to not acknowledge her, keep your verbal interactions to the bare minimum and professional. Say as little as possible so your own words aren't possibly twisted against you.

I wish you the best of luck with this. Hugs.

Edited by 3ringnursing


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